How many inspired people does it take to change a light bulb? About a thousand…nine hundred ninety nine to think about it and one more that finally makes it happen.
I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed for more inspiration. This typically happens once I’m bored attempting to complete the last thing I was inspired to do. It’s interesting how freely ideas flow when we aren’t bogged down with the chore of following through with them.
I stumbled upon a TV special about the survivors of the plane crash of Air force flight 571, full of Rugby players and their friends and family in the Andes Mountains. There was so much to celebrate concerning their character and choices to stay alive. However, the final decision of two leaders in the group to trek out over 40 miles on foot for everyone’s salvation, struck me. I thought it intriguing that not until the 60th day, did the most ambitious of the group decide he must go. He had lost over 35lbs, but not his will to live. I wondered how many nights he lay in the hull of the crashed plane, freezing, praying for rescue… praying for the opportunity to live the rest of his life and fulfill his dreams. I pondered at what moment he became inspired to take control of his escape from the wreckage.
Knowing human nature, it seems likely he had recited the last words of the now dead pilot in his head, dozens, maybe hundreds of times before linking them to action. “Chile is to the west”, he had broadcast to the passengers. He had only that one word of direction to guide him and an endless panorama of snow capped mountains to overcome. Days turned to weeks and week’s months. In the process of pondering what he was inspired to do, fragile lives were lost. One morning, he woke up and decided, today is the day. I think of that moment as “inspiration culmination” and at that, he moved. In so doing, he faced 11 days of hellish cold, dashed hopes and what seemed the knowledge of certain death. He said the only thing that kept him moving forward was the fact that he could not go back and live. Nando and his brave friend Roberto plodded on, day after hungry, frightening, miserable day. There came a moment, when the faithful placing of one foot in front of another, a grassy line was crossed and on that day they advanced into the land of the living.
Yesterday, I was stopped in my tracks with an unexpected Face book surprise. As I was scrolling through pictures of friends I haven’t spoken to in a while, I saw a beautiful “grand opening” invitation to an old friends new chiropractic practice. I almost cried. She was quite successful in another career for more than 10 years. I remember her growing frustration with some of the details of that job and how diligently she began to search out another path that inspired her, where she could fully express her gifts and her heart. It seems like yesterday I ran into her husband at our local Whole Foods. He told me she had taken the plunge to start commuting three hours away during the weeks to go to Chiropractic College. My heart leapt with enthusiasm over her allegiance to the goal of living without fear. That was 4 years ago.
As I stared at her gleaming smile on this 3 x 5 inch invitation, I stirred within as I had while listening to the escapees of the Andes plane crash. Their life threatening escape into the unforgiving mountains to find rescue seemed to share many parallels with my friends journey. There was a pivotal moment in time when my friend and Nando Parada alike, allowed the seed of inspiration to move them to action. A seed no doubt that began as a mere thought or perhaps a simple conversation. Nonetheless, the idea was allowed to germinate through faith in something greater…a life beyond the ordinary. Many times the pioneering must have the revelation that they are more unnerved by what is behind, than what is ahead. No one climbs 40 miles through the Andes Mountains with little food and no gear and survives. No one leaves behind a safe and excellent income, in an uncertain economy to embark on an unpredictable journey, with no guarantee of what lies ahead.
No one ordinary, no one bent on doing what is safe and certainly no one comfortable in their present circumstances. Inspiration is only a beginning. Inspiration culmination is when desperate desire for change, for more and for better…becomes need. The need to materialize what resides in our dreams can and should thrust us into strategic action. That action must be begun with the kind of commitment that demands completion. When Nando Perado reached the top of what he thought would be the final mountain peak leading to green pastures and emancipation and instead saw an endless horizon of snowy mountains, he made a choice. “I will walk forward to safety, unless I die.” Funny how what is “safe” to some, feels like a death sentence to another.
I haven’t spoken with my old friend but knowing her zeal for a life lived in total authenticity and influence, it must have seemed like a death sentence to live the rest of her days on the safe side of her mountain… so she braved the cold summit of the unknown and is crossing into the green terrain of life fulfillment that only the “uncomfortable” will ever see. Surely there were times when she waved goodbye to her friends, family and paycheck that she struggled to muster the foresight to energize another step uphill.
Martin Luther King said “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.”
It is this and only this kind of commitment to complete what we feel truly inspired to do, that allows the seeds of inspiration to mature into the fruit of a life lived extra-ordinarily. This life is like a relay race, except every runner is you. Every new stretch is another inspired path that you must start, run well and finish, so that the handoff for the next stretch can set you up for “the big win”. In the end it is said, we can receive a “crown” which will not fade away.
God is not greedy with inspiration. He is not selfish with creativity. The Lord pours out ideas from an endless source of illumination. I believe he searches constantly for those obedient, finishers who can not only hear a “God idea”, but also complete it, in order to better this world. Perhaps what we should covet even more is the self command required to bring every worthy idea to pass. “He that began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it, even to the day Christ comes”. I’d say it’s obvious what His opinion is about being a finisher.
For all those idea hoarders out there, all those inspiration junkies, who start a venture, only to be diverted by the next promising pursuit, take heed. The Thomas Edison’s, Michelangelo’s, Winston Churchill’s and Abraham Lincolns who have changed this world, who have left an impression we cannot forget, were not only thinkers, but doers… not only doers, but finishers.
Thank you Nando Perado. Congratulations to my beautiful friend. Everyone gets inspired; you made a choice to follow through. What wonderful examples you are.